A Day In The Council Chamber

 

So, today the planning inspector Mr David Smith looked at the various proposals for “West of Rayleigh”. Here’s a summary of the key points.

  1. Mrs Linda Kendall spoke on behalf of the objectors, made some determined points, and with a lot of concerned residents in the council chamber, was applauded quite a lot of  times. She was assisted by Peter Scott.
  2. Mark Francois MP spoke in the afternoon, and got a round of applause as well.
  3. Mr Sam Hollingworth was the speaker on behalf of the District Council.
  4. Other speakers included an officer from Basildon Council, an officer from County Highways, two planning agents on behalf of the developers Countryside (who control the “North of London Road” site), and notably, a representative of Sport England.
  5. The feeling in the public gallery was that Mr Smith conducted things fairly.
  6. He said he was there to test the ‘soundness’ (there’s a special planning definition for this) of the proposals and if they were legally compliant.
  7. During the discussions the proposal to relocate the businesses on Rawreth Industrial Estate began to look pretty shaky.
  8. The planning agents for Countrywide queried whether any homebuilding at the Industrial Estate would actually happen, there appeared to be no promoter for the site, and it would need compulsory purchase which didn’t seem likely without a promoter.
  9. They also claimed that the density of homes proposed for the Industrial Estate site for the site was probably too high to be viable
  10. When the subject changed to the site of the 550 homes, the planning agents said it would take about 5 years to build and sell them.
  11. When the planning agents stated that the drainage system installed would be designed to ensure that the speed of water leaving the site would be no greater or actually less than the current speed. This was greeted with some scepticism by the public listening.
  12. The planning agents think that the ‘green buffer’ could extend from the 550 houses up to the A1245, but if it was that large some of it would be agricultural land rather than park land.
  13. Up till now it’s been proposed that most of the traffic from the 550 would go onto London Road, with less going onto Rawreth Lane. But it was agreed that this would be looked at again at the detailed highways design stage.
  14. Peter Scott argued that the traffic survey results used by the council were either too old, or didn’t cover the right locations.
  15. The chap from Sport England had quite a few concerns about relocating the Rayleigh Sports and Social Club. He wanted detailed wording included to ensure that the new facilities were at least as good as what was currently there, and there should be a proper new lease offered to the club. Not some kind of short-term rental.He warned that in terms of phasing it would take 18 months to get new pitches ready. And he wanted flexibility in the wording to leave open the possibility of the club staying exactly where it is.
  16. Mrs Kendall pointed out that where they wanted to put the new pitches, there used to be a lot of ponds , where there are ponds there is water.
  17. In her most scathing comment of the day Mrs Kendall said that the Core Strategy already approved was like “Noddy and Big Ears”. If the Rawreth Industrial Estate was left alone, she said, there would not be a need for the new employment/ industrial sites south of London Road and at Michelins Farm.
  18. One surprising statement from the District Council’s Mr Hollingworth was that the employment site might not be needed , office space might become available in Rayleigh, and Hockley Town Centres. He said the employment site on London Road was a long-term aim, there was a lack of interest from the owners.
  19. When the discussion moved to the traveller site Mrs Kendall said the decision was a political one and racist – the site wouldn’t be suitable for habitation  so close to industry, traffic , etc.
  20. Mr Hollingworth said this would be a planned scheme [as opposed to something that happened accidently without a proper design] and mitigation could be put in place.
  21. The officer from Basildon council explained that they still objected , they didn’t think this site was the most suitable one for this sort of development. He also said that since Rochford District Coucnil had come up with this proposal, Basildon had given permission on the land next door for a construction workers training school. Part of the training would include practice earth moving operations  any time from 7 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday.
  22. It was agreed by everyone, including Rochford District and Mark Francois that putting a new traveller site on London Road was unacceptable and not viable – apart from anything else, there would be electricity pylons and flooding issue to prevent it.
  23. Mrs Kendall supported allowing  the unauthorised traveller site on the A1245 to become legal and queried why we had to have all the travellers in West Rayleigh
  24. Mr Hollingworth answered that there were actually 6 other [small] sites already in the district.

11 Comments

  1. Christine Paine

    From what I have read both here and on the RAG Facebook page Linda Kendall and Peter Scott did a wonderful job of representing the people of Rayleigh and all credit and thanks to them, especially as it seems that an elected Councillor was extremely rude to Linda. There also seems to be a general feeling that the Inspector, Mr Smith, was fair and impartial, as he should be. We now have to await his verdict. However, whatever it is I think RDC have now hopefully realised that Rayleigh is not going to be walked over without a fight.

    Reply
  2. izabel farrall

    do we know when we should have some sort of decision given to us??

    Reply
  3. Christine Paine

    I think I read somewhere it would be around November time.

    Reply
  4. admin (Post author)

    Yesterday the inspector said he would give an indication today of his timetable… I wasn’t there today to hear what he said.

    Reply
  5. Linda Kendall

    I would like to add a few points to the information regarding the Inspectors Hearings. The object of the Rayleigh Action Group is to try to stop/change the decisions made at the time of the Core strategy approval by RDC which dumped (I use the word purposefully) every possible unwanted development in the west of Rayleigh and Rawreth. Not one house is planned for any other area of Rayleigh and only 36 in Hockley! To force this area to take 829 houses/ possibly flats on Rawreth Industrial Estate two NEW industrial sites, one right on London Road as well as EVERY traveller for the WHOLE of Rochford is simply WRONG. The Tory controlled Council have overridden every objection by the local Libdems (4 against 31) and need exposing for that disgraceful undemocratic act alone. That much of the land was chosen by a serving Councillor whose family own the greenbelt involved is also WRONG. We need resignations at the top of both the Council and among Councillors.

    Reply
  6. admin (Post author)

    Thank you for your comment Linda. Working from memory , I believe the councillor you are referring was on the panel at an early stage, and voted for the consultation to have 1800 extra dwellings in Rayleigh! but was not on the panel further on in the process when specific sites were being chosen.

    Reply
  7. Linda Kendall

    Just one more point . Admin is right .. The Junior Planner left to defend this set of proposals, while his boss twiddled his thumbs at the end of the Council line up (four more young planners being funded by the taxpayer sat through days of hearings without uttering one word) did say there were six more sites in the district BUT added the intention was to put them all on this one new site (cost to taxpayer £2.1 million) in our area. He and the deluded MP Mark Francois claim a big site could be controlled by a Warden! Try telling that to the settled residents of Crays Hill near Dale Farm and Navestock near Brentwood where shotguns were used two weeks ago between travellers on an official site. The Travellers we have already , cost us nothing, pay Council tax and would fulfil our quota set by Government for Traveller sites in our area. I believe in being pragmatic and will support this group, with safeguards against expansion, to stop a huge site in our area.

    Reply
  8. Brian Guyett

    @Linda5: Don’t be fooled by RDC’s deliberately misleading tactics. They have not published a number for new homes in Hockley but it is expected to be between 150 and 250. Additionally they are proposing to demolish around 2/3rds of the village centre and hence change its character entirely. All consultations on the issue have been rejected with majorities of about 98% but RDC have ignored these. They have also refused to undertake traffic studies despite promising them at every stage.

    In short, the whole district is suffering from the Core Strategy proposals. Yes Rayleigh will suffer (not least from extra traffic from the East) but don’t think for one moment that you are being singled out.

    Reply
  9. Christine Paine

    I go back to comments I have made elsewhere. This is what you get when a council has a vast party majority who all toe the party line and can therefore vote NOT to have unpopular developments in any of their wards. This ensures that the majority continue to rule. Essentially the whole Core Strategy is an undemocratic document, people affected by it don’t want it, but other than at the hearings where Linda did a brilliant job on our behalf, we have no way of stopping it. The only way to ever change this sort of thing is to scrap party politics at local level and change the voting system so that everyone has a chance to vote for the whole Council, not just their ward. That would make co-operation fluid and would mean that they would all listen to the view of the people affected by their proposals in the certain knowledge that if they walked over a section or sections of the community then seats would be lost and people elected who would listen. It’s never going to happen, but its the only way to get true democracy and a council who work for the whole community all of the time.

    Reply
  10. Chris Black

    Christine, are you thinking of having 39 Councillors elected district-wide, or having an elected mayor?

    Reply
  11. Christine Paine

    When we have a Parish Council election we have to vote for 7 councillors. I know voting for 39 is not very practical, most people wouldn’t bother, but I think most people would be happy to vote for say 5, so split all the candidates up so that every ballot paper has say 10 random names on it and ask for votes for 5 out of the 10, do that so all the 39 have an equal appearance on ballot papers. All of them would then know they have to satisfy not just their ward but the district as a whole to get elected. Not a lot different from the way they do the London Assembly and London Mayor, a sort of Proportional Representation. Not an elected mayor no, I don’t honestly see what good that would do.

    Reply

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